Remembering a special lady
Sunday marks a very significant life-changing day for me. It was 29 years ago that my mother - Audrey Jane Miller Nuehse - passed away. And though it has been that many years, I always approach that day with sadness.
I was 19 - she was just shy of her 57th birthday.
She was a strong woman and I loved hearing stories of her childhood, growing up in the same little Minnesota town that I was raised in.
She served as a truck driver during World War II - and was always so proud of her veteran status. She didn't leave our country but left home for the eastern part of the United States.
She tamed my dad of the bachelor-hood he had vowed to remain at and brought into the marriage my brother and sister.
She had many medical problems, due to an injury that occurred while serving her country, and had many surgeries and hospital stays. I recall being amazed at the "railroad tracks", the result of back surgery, at least two different times.
By the time I was in fifth grade, she was no longer able to walk and had one of the first electric wheelchairs around, giving back a little independence that had been taken from her.
And by that time, as I was young and my father's job took him away during the week, she moved away to make her home in the veteran's hospital nursing home in Sioux Falls, SD.
My dad and I traveled each Sunday to spend the day with her. Everyone loved her; she spoiled the nurses' kids by giving them candy and treats and because it was her home, she had many friends there.
What finally brought her down was leukemia; it was a word I was not familiar with when she told us of the diagnosis some years earlier. She was tired of fighting not only leukemia but all her other ailments; it was perhaps God's way of saying it's time to come home, knowing that she wouldn't fight back.
I still live with the guilt that I did not do more for her, and I had this conversation with dear Jewell Dierwechter as we sat at one of the community celebrations earlier this summer. My siblings, much older, were gone by the time she required so much help and though I tried as best I could, I could not do it all.
If this situation were today, I would have had home health care for her and perhaps, her ailments could have been treated differently.
I have taken so much from this experience and have tried to be the mother to my kids that I did not have. It wasn't her fault, but she wasn't able to be there to encourage me or attend any of the few school events I was involved in; I try to not miss anything - even if it means rearranging my schedule.
I always knew she loved me, and I carry that on. "Bye, love ya, have a good day" each morning; "Night, love ya, sleep good," to close each day.
I loved my mom and that love will never pass. I dream of her often and she still looks her young self. That is how I will forever remember her. And every Oct. 14 I will be sad.